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Website Check List: How usable is your Website?

By Dan Byrnes


How does your website seem so far in terms of the following considerations.?

Please note: This addenda to the Checklister was added to this project due to: personal experience (see www.danbyrnes.com.au/.);

Long-term e-mail discussions on website construction and usability with a programmer friend, Brian Robson, webmaster of Bondi Beach Home Page at: www.bondivillage.com/;

But mostly due to suddenly noting details from a British government website ("Checklist, Specifying your website"), at: cabinetoffice.gov.uk/e-government/.

The UK Cabinet Office checklist is for Procurement and choosing an ISP/hosting checklist, "an evaluation checklist and universal usability checklist".

A mix of outlook on checklisting for the development of webstyle for both/either of government and private enterprise websites is rare to find, which is why I have recompiled this list. consideration of which, we find, only adds to the severity of critiquing a website nearing completion.

We also find that because a website is a multi-linear production, questions about its usability can curve in on themselves in a multi-category manner, which can seem confusing.

  1. What is the timescale of the development process? Will the website development be stepped in order to evaluate progress and make alternations?
    • Are all parties clear as to the requirements and expectations of the project?
    • Has your office considered where the website sits within your department's electronic records management policy/system?
  2. Could the website benefit from further applications of the KISS principle. (Keep It Simple, Stupid)
  3. Does the website generally follow the usability guidelines of Jakob Nielsen, Vincent Flanders and Joel Spolsky.

    Does the website tend to keep its best design elements invisible to the user?
  4. Will the website capture and keep a user's attention within three seconds? If so, how?
    • Can the website begin to explain its purpose(s) with only one-and-half screens on its main/index page? Can user(s) easily identify the reason(s) the website is made available by its creators?
    • Establish whether the website might offend the family market. If it need not offend this market for any reasons, enhance any extra opportunities arising to widen its user-appeal.
    • Have other or extra methods of text or other information delivery been considered, eg., PDF? Other varieties of downloadables?
  5. Is it likely that the website will be multi-hyperlinked by other websites such that Google will rank and notice this website's popularity.
  6. Are the website's keywords and contents organized so they be easily noticed and indexed by search engines?
    • Will the navigation quickly and clearly help the user benefit from the website without loss of time or experience of confusion?
    • Does the website impose too many choices on the user on any single page, or regarding any sets of navigation options? (No more than seven choices appearing at one time or navigation point is recommended here).
  7. Will the website be easy to update./maintain / revise? If not, why not?
  8. Does the website breach any of the usual conventions of use of the English language? If so, can this be justified for any purposes?

    Has the entire website been printed-out to test its printer-friendliness, and then fully proofread?
  9. Has the website been tested for its performances on a variety of monitors/screen sizes, computers (including MACs), browsers and printers, and all this, also from the point of view of the sight or otherwise-disabled person?

    Have all the graphics been given ALT tags?
  10. Have the uses of HTML, XML, DHTML, XHTML and CSS all been validated by W3C or other suitable methods.
  11. How are hits, page visits to the website, and/or page reads, to be counted? By which recommended system or methodology? How often? By whom? Who will be responsible for keeping a website history?

Questions, various and general:

Further technical/specific questions: